Hot bumble bees at good food: Thoracic temperature of feeding Bombus wilmattae foragers is tuned to sugar concentration

James C. Nieh, Adolfo León, Sydney Cameron, Rémy Vandame

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The ability of bees to generate metabolic heat plays an important role in their ability to forage and pollinate because they must achieve a minimum temperature to activate their flight muscles. In honey bees and stingless bees, the thoracic temperature of feeding foragers is correlated with the caloric value of sucrose solution provided at feeders outside the nest. We provide the first detailed data showing that this phenomenon also occurs in the closely related bumble bee and thus may be homologous in all social bees of the Apidae. Using infrared thermography, we measured Tth for Bombus wilmattae foragers (mass 0.17±0.11 g, length 15.0±1.5 mm) from six wild colonies, foraging on a range of sucrose concentrations (0.5-2.5 mol l -1, 16-65% by mass) in foraging arenas. For all colonies, we measured significant increases in ΔTth (P<0.0001) with increasing sucrose concentration, with significant differences (P<0.0001) between colonies due to different linear regression slopes (0.28-2.4) and y-intercepts (2.7-5.5). We suggest that this modulation of pitching Tth to sucrose concentration is a general phenomenon in all social bees and may be a widespread adaptation facilitating rapid food collection in flying Hymenoptera.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4185-4192
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume209
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2006

Keywords

  • Bombus
  • Endothermy
  • Food quality
  • Foraging
  • Thermoregulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science

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